Theatre producers in Lahore bid huge amounts in order to hire most profitable and coveted actors for their Eid shows. Among these theatres, Alfalah, Mehfil, Tamaseel and Shalimar are the ones that attrack the highest number of audiences on their shows. However the audience loyalty is more associated with the performing artists rather than the venue itself among the performers, the favourites are Khushboo and Nargis.
Unfortunately, the producers will not able to showcase either Khushboo or Nargis in their plays. Khushboo survived a horrific car accident back in June and Nargis may not be able to give her hundred per cent as she arrives in Pakistan a few days before Eid.
“Currently, there is no stage actor capable of attracting the audience to purchase these expensive tickets. The theatre will indeed suffer due to the absence of Khushboo. But there is still some hope for the theatre enthusiasts as Nargis is expected to arrive,” Qaiser Javed, a theatre producer told The Express Tribune.
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Tickets are usually sold in four categories ranging from Rs2,000 to Rs6,000 during Eid but only if Nargis or Khushboo are performing.
While the absence of these two desired actors is a major concern for theatre producers and enthusiasts, it has also made room for many newcomers and veterans who don’t usually get a chance to perform.
The auditions have entered the final round as these last few days will be solely dedicated to rehearsals and promotions. Negotiations are also at its peak as each of these producers wants to hire the best actor especially dancers to earn the highest profit.
According to the sources, Laila will be replacing Khushboo this time and will soon start rehearsals at Alfalah Theatre, while Nida Chaudhry will perform in place of Nargis in case the actor fails to arrive in the country within the given time frame.
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“I am negotiating with Alfalah Theater’s administration to perform on Eidul Fitr but I will not disclose the amount I am being paid,” Laila told The Express Tribune.
“I am not comparing myself with Khushboo and I don’t care about how much she was being paid. I will just focus on giving a good performance,” she added.
Another stage producer, who requested to remain anonymous, shared his opinion saying, “Khushboo is a top artist nowadays and there is no doubt that the theatre industry will suffer in her absence. Similarly, she herself will suffer a financial blow as she used to earn around a million rupees during Eid days.”
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Besides Alfalah and Mehfil Theater, renowned stage actors including Mahnoor, Qismat Baig, Sitara Baig, Zara Akbar, Afreen, Saima Khan, Aasha Chaudhary, Honey Shahzadi and Sheza Butt are also performing in other commercial and government theatres across Punjab.
“Lahoris have a tradition to watch theatre on Eid. It is also a big day for us regarding income so we try to give our best performance and demand good amount of money for it,” said stage dancer Sitara Baig.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 12th, 2015.
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